A taste of Japan in Dorchester at Myra’s Kaiseki
Of the restaurants I frequented, there was none I loved more than Nobu on Park Lane when it had just opened. Not only did I feel a sense of accomplishment because I actually got a table reservation, and I loved the loud Japanese Irashimashi greeting as I walked to my table, but the food was the best I’ve ever eaten. Amazing sashimi, garlic shrimp, but most of all – miso black cod, a dish that offers the best combination of flavor and texture ever.
That life seems a far cry from my post-pandemic existence in rural north Dorset. It’s a healthy home-cooked dinner every night followed by an hour of the current box set (yes, Walker Towers is rock ‘n’ roll). So, when I was recently invited to see a show in the Dorchester (a full 50 minutes away) on a Thursday evening, I had to wrestle with myself. Going out on a school night? With an early tennis lesson the next day? But then I had an idea – Myra’s Kaiseki – a little Japanese restaurant on High East Street, almost opposite. We had been there briefly once before, after seeing a band play at the Corn Exchange. Six of us devoured a plate of sushi and I left thinking we should come back. Here was my chance.
The day came, and it was raining. The pirate was recording shows and interviews all day long. “We don’t have to go if you don’t want to…” I said with uncharacteristic understanding. He looked at me horrified: “And you keep my tigers from the Japanese meal?” I couldn’t do that. What an understanding pirate.
We reserved an early table so as not to be in a hurry. As I looked at the menu, I sighed and said that one day I would come and sample the seven-course tasting menu. ‘why not now?’ The pirate asked. Why not really. Especially since the word kaiseki means a traditional Japanese multi-course meal.
The head chef is a soft-spoken man named Paul, who is full of sincerity and respect for Japanese traditions – and is married to the Japanese head chef, Mira. When he brought us a small ceramic jug of hot sake, he told us that we shouldn’t fill our own cups. The tradition is to tap your cup on the table and let someone else fill it. This was something I never learned at Nobu.
The miso soup was followed by a delicious plate of sushi and sashimi (raw fish). Mira is a fully trained sushi chef. It takes tremendous skill and a very sharp knife to cut sashimi. It also requires great production. The salmon and tuna melted in the mouth. The sushi roll with Dorset Crab was divine. I was so high that I didn’t notice the pirate slamming his little sake cup on the table. He had to add a cough. His cup was duly full.
After Izakaya – a new word in my Japanese vocabulary (which included the excellent huge tempura prawns that proved to be the pirate’s crowning dish) came the thing I was anticipating more than ever. The miso marinated black cod with rice. Although it wasn’t quite Nobu standard – nor was the price. However, it was great to eat such Dorset favorites. Kushiyaki (marinated chicken skewers) and Japanese Wagyu beef cooked on a hot plate meant there was precious little time left before the show hit the road at the Corn Exchange.
“Come back later for your dessert,” Paul suggested. True to his word, our table was saved for us. A little over an hour later we returned, feeling somewhat peckish, for the final and seventh course of semi-freddo cake and exotic fruits. We even tried ume shu, a dessert made from peaches.
Loved our meal at Myra’s Kaiseki. It felt like a proper culinary event. If we lived near Dorchester I would be there at least once a month. It’s an unassuming looking restaurant, but judging by the number of covers they did on our two visits, it’s no secret at all. If you haven’t had a Dorset dining experience yet, I can only suggest you do so.
More details at myraskaisekirestaurant.com